Nel's New Day

February 9, 2019

Brexit, ‘Executive Time,’ More

The media has not released any jaw-dropping news about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) today, so it’s time for catch-up with outrageous happenings during the past few weeks.

With the ongoing disasters in the United States, including a 35-day government shutdown, many people ignore events “across the pond.” In 47 days, the United Kingdom is scheduled to separate from the European Union, and, like in many U.S. debacles, the UK has no plan for the separation. In a world-wide promotion of chaos, Russia “encouraged” people to vote in favor of Brexit, a British exit from the EU, a few months before the U.S. chaos resulting from DDT’s election. The deadline for departure, with or without a plan, was scheduled for March 29, 2019—which seemed a long time away in summer of 2016. As the deadline arrives in less than seven weeks, UK has no agreed-upon plan.

The UK has been bleeding industries and jobs since the vote, and the momentum is building. Companies are making up backup plans as well as stockpiling products and looking for new shipping routes, and international banks have shifted thousands of jobs from Britain to the EU. Of 1,200 surveyed business leaders, 16 percent already have relocation plans, and another 13 percent are considering moves. That’s in addition to the ones which have already gone. The Netherlands reported that its government is talking to over 250 companies about moving their operations from the UK before Brexit. Forty-two companies or branch offices moved 1,923 jobs from the UK last year. Britain’s economy is 2.3 percent smaller than if voters had agreed to stay in the EU, and investment in the automobile sector plunged by almost 50 percent in 2018.

The World Travel and Tourism Council warned Britain that leaving the European Union without an agreement could cost 308,000 UK-based jobs and another 399,000 jobs in the EU from loss of tourism. An analysis from the International Monetary Fund also projects a 7.7 percent decline in economic activity with a total cost to Europe of over £40 billion.

Recently, the HM Revenue and Customs told 145,000 businesses that without a deal between UK and EU, it won’t check goods from the European Union. The average trailer has 400 consignments, each requiring ten minutes for the 40-answer declaration, requiring nine people eight hours to process just one trailer. Ferry operators and Eurotunnel were ordered be accept the word of “reasonable belief” customers. To avoid traffic jams at 20 of the busiest ports, haulers can declare the loads later, and companies can postpone paying import duties for up to a year.

Some people envision security problems from this decision. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid refused to disagree with claims that a no-deal Brexit would make the country less safe. The head of criminals records office, Rob Price said that dangerous criminals might be free in Britain if law enforcement cannot access European conviction records.

An indication of how frightening the Brexit may be for the UK comes from the report about plans for the emergency evacuation of Queen Elizabeth if rioting ensues. People in UK are already stockpiling groceries, medicines, and other supplies, and a possible lack of cash and imports could result in civil unrest. Compounding the problem is that Brexit disagreement is based on “identity politics” from white nationalism instead of economics.

Back in the U.S., DDT is in a rage about a recent White House leak. He raved about how much he liked “doing it” when asked if he would run for a second term, but  a White House leak shows that about 60 percent of DDT’s schedule since the midterm elections was “Executive Time,” even the month when he claimed he was working hard to reopen the government and facing crises in his cabinet and Syria. DDT’s first five hours in the day are “Executive Time” (aka down time) almost always in his residence “watching TV, reading newspapers and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.” Salon’s Heather Digby Parton wrote, “Fox has become Trump’s de facto kitchen cabinet and unofficial communications office, creating a tight feedback loop between the far right and the White House.” Compared to this executive time, 77 hours of DDT’s time has been in meetings for policy planning, legislative strategy, and video showings.

Madeleine Westerhout, DDT’s personal secretary, tweeted about “the hundreds of calls and meetings @realDonaldTrump takes everyday [sic].” If she is right, why were all these omitted from an official schedule?

The DDT’s defense from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

“[DDT] has a different leadership style than his predecessors, and the results speak for themselves.”

According to Sanders, DDT’s over 300 hours of unstructured time is “to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive president in modern history.” Newt Gingrich went farther to defend DDT by comparing him to Winston Churchill.

Beyond the fact that DDT doesn’t work much—not a new revelation—is that a White House staffer is willing to release this information. DDT is frantically searching for the leaker. DDT’s schedules since the 2018 midterm elections have been published here.

DDT’s aides are also unhappy with their boss. A revolt against DDT’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Pascale, is imminent, especially after he misrepresented the DDT’s polling regarding the shutdown, representing them as a political winner for DDT. Corey Lewandowski, DDT’s first campaign manager in 2016, blames Pascale for the Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms.

Having destroyed two federal agencies and failing at his job as “acting” White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, unhappy with his current gig, wants to move on to ruin something else—either the Commerce Department, which already has a Secretary, or president of the University of South Carolina. Still the Office of Management and Budget director, Mulvaney briefly headed up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which may need to change its name to Corrupt Business Protection Bureau after a few months with Mulvaney. In a complete 180-turn from two years ago, Mulvaney said “nobody cares” about the deficit. Congress will be required to address raising the debt limit in March after over a $1 trillion deficit last year—at the latest in Summer 2019. Perhaps Mulvaney wants to be gone by then.

Deutsche Bank refused to loan money to DDT in 2016 when he was funding his presidential campaign and expanding his business at the same time, specifically asking for a loan against a Miami property to pay for work on the Turnberry golf course in Scotland. DDT still owes at least $130 million to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, and bank officials are concerned about DDT defaulting on the loan if he is elected as president. The choice would be losing the money or seizing assets of the President of the United States.

The EU is investigating Deutsch Bank for possible money laundering by Danske Bank’s moving cash abroad. Democrats in the U.S. are carefully watching this investigation as they follow the “Trump money trail.” Deutsche Bank has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for allowing Russian money laundering of massive sums. The bank also sold financial products to the Mercer family who bankrolled DDT’s campaign. The Mercers are now negotiating with the IRS because they used Deutsche Bank to dodge more than $6 billion in taxes to the United States.

Maryland prosecutors have subpoenaed financial documents about DDT’s golf courses in Scotland in their investigation a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution as DDT profits from his businesses. An investigation into expenditures by DDT’s inaugural committee may do the same with the revelation that it paid $700,000 to DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel for events over four days when other venues donated their premises for the inauguration.

A Russian-born lobbyist at the investigated Trump Tower meeting with Don Trump Jr. and others in June 2016 received half a million dollars in payments before and after the meeting. The large cash deposits to Rinat Akhmetshin were deemed suspicious transactions by bank investigators.

In a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Commander Jonathan White, in charge of overseeing migrant children shelters, said he was unaware of the “zero tolerance” policy causing separation of children and parents until he saw the news on television after being told that the policy didn’t exist. Government officials say that children are still being separated, with situations such as lying to an eight-year-old boy who was told he would see his father at a shelter over 2,000 miles away. ICE gave the wrong baby to a mother who had lost all four of her children.

DDT may think that the border needs another 3,700 soldiers to confine a caravan of about 2,000 at the southern border, but New Mexico’s governor Michelle Lujan ordered the withdrawal of most of the National Guard troops deployed on the border. She declared the “crisis” to be bogus because the state’s border towns are some of the safest in the country. Texas has also sent 500 state troopers to the border. New law enforcement outnumbers the immigrants 2 to 1.

April 1, 2017

The Great Wall of DDT

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:07 PM
Tags: ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) walked out of his Oval Office yesterday without signing the executive orders on trade and dodged questions about granting immunity to Michael Flynn. He refused questions and left the folder with the orders on a desk in the next room. After failing to get him to come back, VP Mike Pence grabbed the folder and followed him out. DDT supposedly signed the orders later, one for a 90-day study of the country’s trade deficits to identify potential abuses and the other one for stricter enforcement of anti-dumping laws to prevent foreign manufacturers from undercutting US companies by selling goods at an unfair price.

Evidently things are not going well for him. He’s also having trouble with the centerpiece of his campaign, building an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the United States and Mexico. He first announced that he would make Mexico pay for it, but they refused. Then he said he would charge them tariffs which would pay for it. Congress refused. He has sent out RFPs for construction, but he currently has no funding.

The “wall” has many more problems for its construction:

Cost: DDT says that the total cost will be $10 billion for the remaining 1,000 miles, but conservative GOP estimates are $15 billion. More realistic guesses are $25. The existing 650 miles have already cost over $7 billion, and it is not tall, impenetrable, powerful, or beautiful. In trying to get the money through border-crossing fees, taxing imports, and other methods would work, according to DDT, “if you know something about the art of negotiating.” He hasn’t evidenced any ability in that era yet. 

Private Land: Some of the cost will be purchasing property that people don’t want to sell or taking the land by legal force. Only two-thirds of the 2,000-mile border are federal and tribal lands with private and state-owned lands comprising the remainder. In Texas alone, 225 miles are not federally owned, and the government quit in 2009 when it still had to negotiate with over 480 landowners. In order for the government to take land away from people, federal law requires the government to consult with “property owners … to minimize the impact on the environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life for the communities and residents located near the sites at which such fencing is to be constructed.” Then the government would need to declare a taking and undergo condemnation proceedings. In addition, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment mandates compensation for the existence of the wall on owners’ property.

Tribal Land: Although DDT may think that he has control over tribal lands, the treaty before the Mexican-American War of 1853 says differently for Tohono O’odham territory, a 2.8 million acre area the size of the state of Connecticut bridging the Arizonan/Mexican border. To the tribe, a wall would damage their “sacred sites, ceremonies, relations with relatives, and respect for ancestors’ burial sites,” according to Nellie Jo David, a Tohono O’odham law student at the University of Arizona. A steel barrier already separates tribal members on parts of the border with barbed wire in other places, but they were allowed to freely travel across the border until 9/11. A wall such as DDT envisions would stop water flowing into the Tohono O’odham land and prevent animals from moving back and forth to breed and find food. Tribal members talk about having convenient water sources nearby, but being blocked at the border requires miles of travel for water.

Eco System: Building a wall would destroy the natural movement for animals between the north and south of the North American continent. Without this migration, endangered species such as the North American jaguar and black bears will be increasingly threatened. Eighteen federally protected species are found on the California border, and at least 39 federally endangered, threatened, or candidate species live along the Arizona border. The border is also home to natural flooding zones and large areas of sand with movement of land.

Food for People in the U.S.: Inexpensive undocumented labor is the foundation for food in the nation. Without them, crops rot in the field because no one else will do the work. If the wall is effective, the price of fruit and vegetables, both highly labor intensive, will skyrocket. Then comes prices for animal products, starting with dairy and moving on to eggs and meat. Grains and beans will follow. With DDT’s freeze on people who inspect food, work with farmers, and do research to improve food system sustainability and efficiency, people will have less—and more contaminated—food.

Economy: U.S./Mexico trade is over $1 billion every day; the 13 million Mexicans who traveled to the U.S. in 2010 spent $8.7 billion, and trade with Mexico sustains 6 million U.S. jobs. Over 20 percent of all U.S. jobs are tied to trade along the border.

Lost Land: DDT hates to give up anything, and building the wall will lose him part of the United States. He can’t put it on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande because Mexico won’t let him. He can’t put it in the middle of the river because that’s impossible—or unbelievably expensive. When he puts it on the north side of the border, he can’t always put it exactly on the edge of the river. For example, he will have to go through the second hold of the River Bend Resort & Golf Club in Brownsville (TX). The Texas wall would most likely be on a federally-owned flood levee. Fifteen of River Bend’s 18 holes are located on the south side of the levee in addition to over 200 plots where retirees park their RVs. Some of these people voted for DDT and want the wall—just not on their property.

Laws: A 1970 boundary treaty governing structures along the Rio Grande and Colorado River at the Mexican border requires that they not disrupt the flow of the rivers. These flow across Texas and 24 miles in Arizona and define the US-Mexico border, according to The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint US-Mexico agency that administers the treaty.

Appearing more rational than his boss, Ryan Zinke, who DDT chose for the Secretary of Interior, seems to understand the improbability of the “big, beautiful wall.” In discussing how complicated building such a structure could be, he suggested electronic monitors in some areas and nothing in places with large natural features. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stated that at least parts of the wall but will instead “rely on sensors and other technology.”

DDT continues to insist that he will build the wall, but he has a very short attention span. And at least 62 percent of the people oppose the building of the wall. Of course, a majority of Republicans supports it although the closer they live to the proposed wall, the greater the opposition. None of the congressional members from Texas supports its building. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) described The Wall as “the most expensive and least effective way of securing the border.”

According to DDT, building the wall would be easy. That statement comes from a man who has never built anything in his life. On the other hand, a professional engineer describes how difficult the project would be. To be effective, cheap, and easily maintained, it must be built from readily available materials and use an existing labor force. To avoid tunneling, it must go five feet into the ground; to avoid climbing, it must be 20 feet above the ground.

The continuous, non-porous construction would be built from concrete that would have to be pre-cast because of the hot, dry climate—three times the amount of concrete necessary to build the Hoover Dam and with a greater volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis. The materials could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the planet. The rebar to reinforce the concrete would weigh about 5 billion pounds, perhaps from melting down four Nimitz-class aircraft carriers plus a few cruisers. Facilities would have to be built to create the pre-cast part of the wall and then shipped across the desert. Workers would need food, water, shelter, lavatory facilities, safety equipment, transportation, and medical care. Who would do that—other than immigrants?

Humans have built a 2,000-mile-long wall just one time in a centuries-long process that required the forced labor of millions of Chinese peasants.

[More thoughts on building the wall.]

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